05 February 2014

Hong Kong

During my two-plus days in Hong Kong, I've taken a train, hotel vans, ferries, and about a dozen taxis. There's what I'm told is a pretty good bus/streetcar public transportation system, but I have neither the time nor any interest in figuring it out. It's easier--and only US$3-8 to take a taxi everywhere except between Hong Kong and Kowloon. For that, I use the Star Ferry.

The taxis here are all old and red with a silver roof. Most are a Toyota model called Crown Comfort. I'm pretty sure they're the same taxis they had when I first visited 10 years ago... and the drivers all scoot around the city like they're in a MINI. 

Unfortunately, the taxis don't handle like one. There's a sign in the cabs that says you will be fined if you don't wear your seatbelt. Like with all that body roll I need a sign. Although I've not seen one of the taxis in an accident, I considered also wearing my Schuberth motorcycle helmet.

The Star Ferry is the best US$0.37 you can spend just about anywhere. For your HK$2.80, you get to queue behind a gate, join the just-short-of-mad rush down the ramp and across the gangplank, find a seat on one of the reversible benches, and enjoy the ride across Victoria Harbor. It's a memorable experience.

My stop in Hong Kong is virtually free. It's Cathay Pacific's hub, where I change planes, and on the frequent flyer miles free ticket I am allowed one stopover at no charge. The room at the very nice Marriott Courtyard Hong Kong (on-par with a "full" Marriott or Renaissance hotel in the U.S.) is free with Marriott Reward points. I am only paying for food, transportation, and purchases. 


The reason I stop here is that just before my first visit, an acquaintance told me about the tailor he uses: House Tailor. At the time it had never occurred to me to have my clothes custom-tailored... and I thought, why not? Now owners Johnny and Stanley take such great care of me that I'm spoiled.

For less than the cost of an off-the-rack Nieman Marcus suit, I get a custom suit of 220-thread count Italian wool that fits better than any pre-made suit ever could and has many additional features. Since I have six suits made on previous visits and hardly have the need to wear them anymore, I bought only shirts and dress slacks this time. Four of the shirts are the first 'casual' shirts I've ordered and will be made to match two of my favorite shirts that I'm leaving with them to copy. Most times, I take everything with me, but this time the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday has them a bit backed up so they're shipping it all to my house.

If you go to Hong Kong, stop in to see them at the top of the lobby escalator in the Regal Kowloon Hotel, 71 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon. Say hello for me.

My original planet for this trip included a visit to Macau. That changed when I read in the paper that over 540,000 mainland Chinese and 140,000+ others are celebrating CNY there and decided it would be a bit too crowded to fully enjoy. Next time...

I therefore spent a good part of my second and final full day here wandering the streets and riding "the world's longest pedestrian escalator". It runs from the uphill side of the Central Market (which was still closed for CNY) to mid-mountain. 

It's fairly steep in places and most sections are a flat belt like those found in the A Terminal at SeaTac and other airports, though the steepest sections are staired.

Hollywood Road, a famed street of antique shops, is in-between the two large contiguous sections of the escalator. I walked it end-to-end and was unimpressed... most likely because most shops were still shuttered for the CNY holiday, though I'm sure in-part because Chinese antiques aren't top of my list and I don't really know enough about them to fully appreciate them.

Failing to find anything of interest on Hollywood, I wandered into the alleys and side streets. Down Ladder Street to Tung Street, I found a number of interesting small shops and street vendors, as well as fresh meat, seafood, and vegetable vendors

(Behind the hand is a fish that flopped just as I clicked the shutter)

There were also some amazing trees that have attached themselves to walls on Shing Wong and other streets.

The last photo is a tree on Wing Lee Street, a "street" that vehicles cannot access. It was billed in one of the travel guides as a great place to see pre-1910 architecture, but I didn't see any interesting architecture of any era. Both sides had only boring apartment buildings like the ones seen above--quite a disappointment after spending 30 minutes searching for it. If you still want to see Wing Lee Street, look for the blue railing off Ladder Street between Bridges and Caine Streets. Or go up the steps from the corner of Shing Wong and Bridges Streets and you'll see the sign on your right. 

Just to the right off one flight of mthe escalator was a "Members Only" place called The Phoenix. What caught my eye was the chalkboard outside that gave its "Opening Hours"

They're open until they're closed... okay <smile>

While looking for a lunch spot I came upon a few places with literally dozens of locals queuing up for a table

I skipped the places with the deep fried baby pigeon entree 

and found a non-crowed place with a surprisingly good buffet: Indian Village, 33 Peel Street. The owner is very friendly and they had a number of vegetarian selections.

During the day I took a few other interesting photos, presented here randomly
Cigarettes in the Dog Latrine... fitting 'cause smokers smell worse than...

Note the ultra-skinny bus in the intersection

From 50 feet away, this sign hanging high over the street reads:

They were closed, so I went to the tattoo parlor instead.

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